Letter Says Ossipee Property Assessments Punish Those Who Ask for Abatements

[Editor’s Note: The following letter, reprinted from the Carroll County Independent, is by long-time lake resident George Eisener, who is past-president of Long Sands Association. Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow declined our written request to respond].

To the Editor: Do you live in Ossipee? If you don’t, consider yourself very fortunate. This town can find ways to penalize you if you exercise your rights to fair treatment. The selectmen are out to teach you not to question your assessment.

When the selectmen have been asked to intervene on assessment issues, the response is that the selectmen are not assessors. Harry Merrow has stated this, and I agree with him. Yet when he doesn’t agree with the assessor he has stated, “The assessor works for us and we don’t agree with him.” This is contradictory but is consistent with how the selectmen deal with assessing. This is why the assessing policy is so screwed up. It is no wonder the town is flooded with abatement requests.

The threat the selectmen hold over those who would challenge their abatement is a form of blackmail and ends up as a con game. In 2005, after property owners received an abatement on their land (Harry was a selectmen at that time), the selectmen directed the assessor (David Wiley) to review the buildings of those who received an abatement and find any items that could increase their abatement or any items the assessor might be able to add to the property assessment. So those who filed for an abatement in 2011 on their land, are in the process of again being discriminated against because they would DARE to question their over-assessment. Their property will be scrutinized like no others and possibly penalized for questioning their assessment.

When the town assessor reviewed the 2011 abatement of those seeking abatements, he granted abatements (although less than requested) only to see the selectmen take it away because the town could not afford it. Harry has verified the selectmen are not assessors, but are very poor accountants. With land abatements hanging over property owners, and their buildings under review, the selectmen are intent to offset any land abatement by adding more value to your building or other items. So this penalty increase on your building or other items will only be placed on those who sought abatements only on their land value.

Example: The assessor goes around and two houses have identical features – lean-to, retaining walls, wood sheds, docks, and pump house. Although none of these features have ever been assessed, one seeking an abatement on his land could get hit with those or like items, while his neighbor could get off scott-free. He could end up paying more than the requested abatement. Next you will pay more for dump stickers, not having your road plowed or graded, or a similar reason for the town to get a payback because you found your land value had been over-assessed. Ossipee Justice.

How could there be any type of equality with this type of assessing? This is why the town assessing system is so screwed up and abatement applications are so rapid. We need selectmen that understand equal assessing and stop promoting this type of conflict between property values due to this inconsistency in assessing.

Why do the selectmen continue to spread this policy? As long as the selectmen continue to interfere with a qualified assessor, we will always be in turmoil. The selectmen consider this fair, which makes one question their integrity. Why is it so difficult for the selectmen to treat all property owners equally, and not discriminate, punish, those who question their land assessment? Now that you admit you’re not assessors and have proven beyond a doubt just how unqualified you are as assessors, why don’t you let those who are qualified assess and get this screwed-up town fixed so it can obtain some integrity? Stop this foolish discrimination of granting a right to an abatement and then penalizing them for unrelated items.

Just be thankful if you don’t live in Ossipee. As the memorandum handed to me by the selectmen clearly states: “The selectmen were elected to do as they see fit”. We need a new memorandum that states: “The selectmen were elected to do what’s right for the taxpayers.”

George W. Eisener


  1. atony 11 years ago May 22, 2013

    It gets worse George.
    It’s not only the town but the State jumps in right behind the town to perpetuate this scam.
    A class action (it is the only way the property owners can in a financially prudent way take their case to court) was attempted by a large number of lake front property owners and the lower level court decided to not allow it. When the group appealed to the State Supreme court they were told that the Supreme Court just did not want to hear the case. That’s it. Just like that and thousands of dollars in legal fees and it’s over. So much for fairness. The property owners can’t even get into court as a group to present their case.
    The government knows all too well that to allow these folks to present their case could potentially mean a significant loss in tax revenue. If the Ossipee folks actually won their case it would open a flood gate of appeals from all around the lakes in NH. Imagine the backlash.
    It’s no surprise that Harry did not want to respond as comments like “if you don’t like the taxes then leave” and “we can’t grant these abatements…we have bills to pay” are clear indications of an arrogant and irresponsible approach to property assessments that until now has been kept in the dark.
    Thanks for speaking out George, you have more support than you know!

  2. Don MacLeod 11 years ago May 25, 2013

    The taxable information on a property card needs to be accurate. In the past no one cared so few property changes were documented. If you apply for an abatement you’re asking to have your property card facts validated. So they’re going to find that unrecorded shed, deck or 4 season porch improvement & tax to that updated property card. Point being that filing for abatement mostly looks to correct property card mistakes. That the land is being taxed at a seemingly unfair rate is a different issue.

    Lakefront land is taxed to its best fully developed potential. A modest seasonal use cabin owner may sell at a discount to escape that growing land tax liability. The personal hardship of that sale is disregarded & so doesn’t impact our overall land values. Our economic diversity & the off season vacancy of the NH lakesides is being taxed out of existence.

    It’s pretty obvious that the era of the rustic blue collar summer
    cabins on wooded lots is over & we’re well into the disposable wealth age of trophy homes with green lawns & paved driveways on dirt roads.

  3. atony 11 years ago May 30, 2013


    I’m not sure I agree with your premise for an abatement. The reason for these mass abatements is more to request a change in the taxes that are being mandated by the town.

    I don’t know about your tax card but mine surely shows the taxable value of the land….6 acres = $400k. The dwelling and any other improvements are added to that to establish a total taxable value. So the land being valued the way it is indeed is the very issue. The property assessments are supposed to, by law, be based on “market value”. If .6 acre lots are being sold for $250 to $260k then there most certainly is a disparity. That disparity is further aggrevated by the fact that properties not on the lake in Ossipee have seen reductions in the order of 20-25% in assessed value. Therein lies the disproportionality that is the premise of the mass abatements.

    You’re comments regarding “unrecorded improvements”, “personal hardship of sales” and “disposable wealth age” are all noted but not at all applicable to the reality of the chronic abuse being levied on the lakefront property owners by the former assessor and selectman.


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